Tony! Toni! Tone! It’s not just an R&B supergroup from the late 80’s but also the enthusiastic greeting our good friend Tony Hardin gets when he drops by the Sullivan household. And while he is an old Cabbagetown friend, this is a new day of Tony. This is tax expert Tony and designer glasses Tony. This is hot yoga Tony. This is a Tony to be reckoned with.
You’ve been a marathoner, a biker, a golfer, a kayaker…you are undoubtedly a man of sport and fitness. But now your devotion is to hot yoga. Elaborate.
I started bikram/hot yoga in January 2011, and I practice four or five times per week. The session is 90 minutes and is a series of 26 postures. It strengthens the core and back muscles, improves balance, strengthens the knees, and it cleanses your skin. Knowing the routine every time allows me to move smoothly, following my breath from one pose to the next.
Follow your breath? Is that hippie-speak? Where exactly is this cult?
The place is BeHot Yoga Atlanta (behotyogaatlanta.com ), located in the Urban Body Studio next to Paris on Ponce. I love it, so I never have to cajole myself into going. The teachers introduce themselves to beginners and explain the fundamentals before the class starts.
And why hot yoga versus regular yoga?
The room is 106 degrees so it is not crazy hot. The heat helps loosen the muscles making it easier to stretch. It also helps the body detox. Try taking a class after a good night out – WOW! You will feel it.
Is it all about shirtlessness and profuse sweating?
Most of the men practice without shirts, and most of the women wear sleeveless yoga tight-fitting tops. My first time I wore a shirt, but I took it off within fifteen minutes. Everyone is in their zone, so no one cares what the others look like. There is no physical contact, so no one has to brush up against you.
I don’t know if they would let me participate unless I was stationed uphill from a drain. Do you get used to the heat?
I actually lose three to five pounds a class, so that is a lot of sweat! The heat is tough in the beginning, but you get used to it within your first five classes or so. My teacher told me that my job the first day was to stay in the room no matter how much I wanted to leave. Stop. Sit down. The anxiety will settle. He was right.
People marvel about their flexibility after fully embracing a hot yoga schedule. Do you condescend to rubber bands nowadays?
I certainly have greater flexibility, better posture and a stronger core. I have a stronger lung capacity, too. Each class begins and ends with a breathing exercise, and that has actually made a noticeable difference when I go for a bike ride. My best golf games have been after a yoga class. I would rather be the most flexible man in the room than the strongest.
I just always want to be the tallest man in the room but that dream often dies when I leave my house. Have you had any injuries related to the yoga?
No injuries. I have overdone it before and that is how I learn what the teachers tell us every day. Go easy. It is a process, not a destination. It is not whether you can touch your toes or your knees and to most of us that is counterintuitive.
I don’t want to brag but I can touch my knees and my toes, sometimes. Different hands of course. Now, when you are not making like a pretzel you own and operate Rock and Hardin Professional Tax Company with your business partner Sam Rock. There is a great joke in there somewhere. Just can’t put my finger on it…
I know. There is a good slogan in there. I have not come up with it yet.
Let’s put it out to the readers! They are tremendous sloganeers. By the way, what do you think ol’ Mittens is hiding in his tax returns?
I have to charge you for that question.
Aww c’mon!! I thought that in a yoga-induced, Zen-like haze you might reveal a few taxman secrets. Well, what if all of our politicians were required to take a few hot yoga classes per week? More bipartisanship?
Amen to that brother!